Apple tablet officially confirmed

Not by Apple, admittedly. But Stephane Richard, the incoming CEO (and current vice-president) of mobile phone company Orange (one of Apple’s European network partners) appears to have inadvertently let the much-rumoured cat out of the bag. In an interview with French TV station Europe 1, the following exchange (translated) takes place:

Interviewer: According to [French magazine] Le Point, your partner Apple will be launching a tablet
Stéphane Richard: Yes.
Interviewer: … equipped with a webcam.
Stéphane Richard: Yes.
Interviewer: Will Orange customers also be able to enjoy it?
Stéphane Richard: Of course!, they will actually particularly enjoy it because the webcam will allow live video streaming. It’s a new take on mobile video-conferencing.

My schoolboy French seems to back up the internet translation, but you can check the interview out for yourself here if yours is better:

L’interview politique de Jean-Pierre Elkabbach
(Skip to 6.12 or so.)

So it’s pretty much official. The iTablet (or whatever it ends up being called) seems a genuinely exciting development. Essentially a netbook-sized iPod/iPhone, it could carve out a huge and bloody chunk of that market. With a form factor half the size and weight of existing units (because there’s no need for a separate keyboard and screen) it’d be much easier to carry around, and with wifi and phone functions built in and a huge ready-made library of useful and cheap apps, existing netbooks could become practically obsolete. (Because it seems very hard to believe that anyone actually uses those for more advanced purposes like graphics editing, given their tiny screen and awkward mousepad interfaces.)
Of course, the prospective device will likely face the traditional Apple snags of poor battery life and absurdly high price, but that’s unlikely to put early adopters off, and with netbooks being increasingly premium-priced anyway (way to miss the point, dummies) it looks like there could be room for Apple to come in and annex another lucrative market for itself.
Respect due to AppAdvice.
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6 Responses to “Apple tablet officially confirmed”

  1. I liked MacFormat’s take on this a while back. The illustrator came up with this, which enables you to optionally dock the device and use an external keyboard. Seems like a great idea and one that’d probably define the path to the next ‘Mac’.

  2. They’ve got a Windows 7 laptop everybody was raving about at CES where you can detatch the screen and it switches to a Linux tablet on the fly, then when you plug it back into the keyboard it switches back to Windows instantly. Lots of interesting stuff happening in this space. I think the tech, and the price has finally caught up with the concept.

  3. Of course now Orange France have denied it.
    And The Register points out all he is actually doing is confirming the existence of an article in Le Point.
    Still, the tablet will be annouced soon, probably.

    • “And The Register points out all he is actually doing is confirming the existence of an article in Le Point.”

      Well, not with this bit:

      “Interviewer: Will Orange customers also be able to enjoy it?
      Stéphane Richard: Of course!, they will actually particularly enjoy it because the webcam will allow live video streaming. It’s a new take on mobile video-conferencing.”

      • It’ll be interesting to see what the final device includes. Sources are currently indicating no camera, although that would somewhat go against Apple’s entire ‘connected’ ethos, not least the fact that every machine with a display (bar the handhelds) has an integrated webcam.

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